The harrassing quest for money to support a scholar's project is often more tiring and time consuming than the actual research. Strangely enough, charitable foundations often award liberal grants to large groups, while rejecting support for small scale investigations. The unfortunate result is that many of the University's projects lag because modest sums of money are unavailable for basic equipment. According to the warning of the special Faculty Committee for the Behavioral Sciences, financial problems cripple the younger scholars particularly, for their work is usually not covered by large grants.
The value of small grants is clearly indicated in the success of the Laboratory of Social Relations. Money granted by the University and the Carnegie Corporation to the central Laboratory fund has solved a number of small but urgent needs. Patterned on the Social Relations pool, a central research fund would provide two major advantages. It could help finance the projects of non-permanent instructors and assistant professors, now generally ignored in what is often the most effective period of their careers. The fund could also provide these men easier access to small amounts of money without elaborate restrictions as to use.
At present, however, most foundations are unwilling to allocate their cash for small projects. They argue that it is easier to make advance checks and evaluations on ten large grants than on hundreds of small gifts. It is also safer, they say, to give money to mature scholars completing studies than to young faculty members of less reputation who are exploring new fields.
But flexible control and adequate safeguards in the central research fund would answer the foundations' objections. The Dean of the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences and the deans of the professional schools would administer the grants. By working with a joint committee from the graduate schools, they could insure coordination and promote interdepartmental research. An annual report by the department would give the President and the foundations a check on the use of the money. In addition, the President should appoint a review committee to evaluate the program for the benefit of the University, and for foundations that have feared the abuse of small grants.
Although the researchers would give account of their expenses, a central fund would make it possible to pay the necessary costs for travel, manuscript publication and IBM use in the research process. This allowance is essential for the life of programs that are too new to receive the usual large foundation grant.